The Ten Good Karmas

Shi Yinyi
Shi Yinyi
Since 1998, I have been following the kind mentor of BPI to start the journey on Buddhism. ...Read More

  The Ten Good Karmas
  Instructor: Venerable Wu Guang
  Author: Shi Yin Yi
  June 24, 2002

 

I. Preface

  For a beginner in the study of Buddhism, it is very confusing at first, not knowing where to start with the first step. As a true practitioner, if you can’t even begin the first step, you will never be able to take the second or third step. What is this first step? It is the Ten Good Karmas. It is just like the passage of Dharma that the Buddha Enlightenment for the Dragon King at the Dragon Palace. [Shikonanda: The Sutra on the Ten Good Karmas,Taisho Buddhist Scriptures, vol. 15, p. 159].

  Everyone wants to be free from all suffering in the path of evil, and wants to be free from all evil and to be able to attain true happiness. But the Buddha said that all sentient beings in the South of Jambudvipa are always karma and all sins. [Shikonanda: Chapter 1of the Sutra of the Earthstore Bodhisattva, Taisho Buddhist Scriptures, vol. 13, p. 783]. What can we do if all that comes out of our actions and thoughts is evil and bad? The Buddha was already teaching the dharmas of breaking all evil suffering. [Shikonanda: The Sutra on the Ten Good Karmas: Taisho Buddhist Scriptures, vol. 15, p. 157-158.] What is the Dharma? This dharma is the Ten Good Karmas. But to achieve it, there are many obstacles. What is the biggest root reason of failure to achieve the Ten Good Karmas? If we analyse it carefully, we will find that it is evil views, foolishness and ignorance.

  In this paper, we have briefly explored the Ten Good Karmas according to the needs of the theme, such as the connotation of the Ten Good Karmas, their importance, the fundamental reasons that they cannot be achieved, and the ways to achieve them. Through this, we hope that we can make ourselves and others realise that the Ten Good Karmas are not to be ignored and that we should cherish them and make them a habit, just like putting on clothes and trousers. In order to achieve this, we have to uncover the root thief that hinders the achievement of the Ten Good Karmas. Otherwise, just pluck the leaves and search for the branches.” [Song of Enlightenment by Master Yongjia, vol. 48, p. 395, below]. This is the root of foolishness (evil view)! At the same time, I hope that by doing this, we can work hard to complete the Ten Good Karmas, and even to attain the supreme Bodhi.

  The body of this paper is organised as follows: Chapter 2, which is about how to achieve the Ten Good Karmas. It is divided into four sections: the meaning of the Ten Good Karmas, the importance of the Ten Good Karmas, the root cause of the failure to achieve the Ten Good Karmas, and the way to achieve the Ten Good Karmas. The third chapter is the conclusion of the paper. If a person who has not attained the Ten Good Karmas, it is a joke to practice any Dharma, If you want to practice and achieve fruition, it is like building a castle in the sky, or planting rice in the air. If you want to achieve growth, it is useless. [Shatai Hsu: Five Vehicles Learning Together, The New Continuing Collection, vol. 3, p. 36.] Since it is so important, we must find ways to achieve it. How can we achieve it? We have to catch the root thief, foolishness. Overall, the root cause of the failure to achieve the Ten Good Karmas is foolishness (evil view).

II. How to Achieve the Ten Good Karmas

  The connotation of the Ten Good Karmas
  If you want to achieve the Ten Good Karmas, first of all, you need to understand the meaning of the Ten Good Karmas. When I first learned the Dharma, every time I read the Sutras, I saw that the Sutras mentioned how good men and good women do can attain the benefits, and I was very happy. I thought I was a good woman, and I could also get these benefits.In fact, this is not the case. It is only because you do not understand the Ten Good Karmas that you have this wrong perception.
  What are the Ten Good Karmas? The Ten Good Karmas are the ten good deeds performed in the three karmas of body, speech and mind.
  It is also known as the Ten Good Karmas, the Ten Good Paths, the Ten Good Fundamental Karmas and the Ten White Karmas.The terminology of the ten good karmas varies from Sutra to Sutra, but their meanings are the same.
  For example, in the Shari’ah Vipassana, Chapter 7, it is defined as follows: “What are the Ten Good Karmas? The ten virtues are to refrain from killing, from stealing, from evil speaking, from double-talking, from bad speech, from speaking in a beautiful manner, from covetousness, from anger, and from righteous action. [Shumayashtha and Shumabhorita, etc.: Shakyamuni Avalokiteshvara, vol. 7, Taisho Buddhist Scriptures vol. 28, p. 584].

  In the Sutra of the Ten Good Karmas, it is also said, “What are the ten? They are those who are free from killing, stealing, sexsual misconduct, delusions of speech, harsh speeches, evil words, greed, anger, and evil views. [Shikonanda: The Sutra of the Ten Good Karmas, Taisho Buddhist Scriptures vol. 15, p. 158].
  From the above, we can see that the Ten Good Karmas refer to the ten good deeds, namely: the three of the body (not to kill, not to steal, not to commit sexual misconduct), the four of the mouth (no delusional speech, no harsh speech, no evil words, no nonsense), and the three of the mind (not to be greedy, not to be angry, not to have evil views = not to be foolish). Having a clear understanding of the Ten Good Karmas lays a foundation for the next step in achieving them.

(1) The importance of the Ten Good Karmas

  From the above, we have already understood what the Ten Good Karmas are and how important they are. All of these sutras and treatises speak of the Ten Good Karmas, but some speak of them in detail and some in brief. From this, it is clear that its status in Buddhism is not to be ignored.

  As far as the author knows, the Buddha mentioned the Ten Good Karma in these sutras: the Ten Good Karma Sutra, Sutra of Receiving the Ten Good Precepts, Dafang Guangfo Huayan Sutra, Upasaka Precepts, Zha Ahan Sutra, Sutra of Precepts, the Sutra of Mahayana Great Rally Ten Wheels of Earth Store, Prajna Paramita Sutra of Benevolent King Protecting the Country, Retribution Sutra of Distinguishing Good and Evil, Sutra Said by Mahasattva Channi Ganzi, Theory of Realization, and The Sequence of the Path to Bodhi etc..

  As above, we can see that the Ten Good Karmas are mentioned in so many sutras. In the Sutra of the Ten Good Karmas, it is said, “Speaking about the Good Dharma, it means that body of the human beings, gods, the Sound-hearers, the Sages Enlightened by Conditions, and the Supreme Bodhi are all rely on this Dharma as the foundation for attainment. This Dharma is the Ten Good Karmas.” [Shikonanda: The Sutra on the Ten Good Karmas, Taisho Buddhist Scriptures, vol. 15, p. 158].
  It can be seen that the Ten Good Karmas are fundamental to the attainment of the body of the human beings, gods, Sound-hearers, Sages Enlightened by Conditions and the Supreme Bodhi.
  As a disciple of the Buddha, the ten virtuous karmas are particularly important, for without them, if one cannot even attain a body of human and god, how can one attain Buddhahood?

  In the Sutra of Mahayana Great Rally Ten Wheels of Earth Store, the Buddha also explained the importance of the Ten Good Karmas, both in the worldly and the out-of-worldly.

  In order to deepen our understanding of the importance of the Ten Good Karmas, and to increase our confidence and motivation to achieve them, let us look at what the Buddha said in the Sutra of the Ten Good Karmas: At that time, the World Honored One praised this Dharma and gave a verse saying, ‘If one can practise the Ten Good Karmas and follow the teachings of the Buddha Dharma, one will be able to see the Buddha in every births, one’s body and mind will be enlightened, one will be free from all sorrows, and attain the supreme path.[Sutra of Receiving the Ten Good Precepts, Taisho Buddhist Scriptures vol. 24, p. 1024].

  From this it can be seen that the Ten Good Karmas enable a person to follow the teachings of the Buddha Dharma, not only to see the Buddha more often, but also to be enlightened in body and mind, and that person who is enlightened will understand everything when he faces it.

  Moreover, those who perform the Ten Good Karmas can leave the bondage of suffering and can also achieve the supreme path quickly.

  Not only that, but even if one has created the Ten Evil Karmas, all kinds of obstacles have arisen as a result of the creation of these evil karmas.

  Since one is free from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, and evil views, one’s previous evil karmas and karmic obstacles such as killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, and even evil views will be destroyed, and there will be nothing left of them, and one will not be able to suffer the evil karmas that should be produced.[Xuanzang: the Sutra of Mahayana Great Rally Ten Wheels of Earth Store, Vol. 9, Taisho Buddhist Scriptures, vol. 13, p. 767.]

  Based on the above, it is easy to see that the ten good karmas have a very high status in Buddhism, both in the worldly and the out-of-worldly, and that they can bring incredible benefits and should be given absolute attention. However, if we want to obtain these benefits, we have to take action, identify the points that hinder its achievement and break through, and work hard to complete the Ten Good Karmas.

(2) The root cause of the failure to achieve the Ten Good Karmas is ignorance

  The importance of the Ten Good Karmas has already been understood, and the great benefits they bring have been made clear. It is because of this importance that one aspires to the Ten Good Karmas and thus strives to achieve them.

  In the previous chapter, we also mentioned the root cause of the failure to achieve the Ten Good Karmas, which is ignorance. Why is it that ignorance is the root cause of the failure to achieve the Ten Good Karmas? From the Sutra of Receiving the Ten Wholesome Precepts, there is a quote: ‘ Comitting the Five Relentless, severing the prajna, breaking the Prohibition of the Four Felony, and so forth up to the Felony of Relentless result all from the upside-down and evil thougts of false view. The wind of false view blows the evil speech, and the fire in the Avici Hell results from harsh tongue.'[Translation by Xuanzang: The Sutra on the Ten Good Precepts, Dazhongzang, vol. 24, p. 1028.]

  From this, it is easy to see that people will recklessly create the Fivefold Relentless Retribution, committing the four kinds of sins and even the sins of Fivefold Relentless Retribution, all from evil views and upside-down evil thoughts! The wind of evil views will also move one to create evil karma of the mouth.

  It is also written in the Sutra of the Ten Good Karmas: “All these things are caused by the heart creating good and bad karma of the body, speech and mind. Some people like to create the karma of killing, stealing and sexual lust, while others like to create the karma of deluded speech, double-talking, evil speaking, and Nonsense. All this is due to the first thought that moves the mind, and as soon as the mind is moved, karma begins to be created. For example, when one sees something of interest (good food and beauty), one begins to desire it, and when one does not, one becomes angry. Creating by your body, mouth and mind. For example, for the desire of tasty food, one may hurt some animals and kill them alive for the desire of a good felling; for the desire of beauty, one may desire what belongs to others, and one may secretly commit evil sexual acts, and if one fails to do so, one may become angry and destroy the other.

  I have met people around me who quarrelled and even fought with each other every day because of their sexual misconduct, causing a lot of unrest in the family. This is not the worst. Some people even kill their partners or take them to court when they find out that they have been disloyal. Why do people do such things? It is because of ignorance and evil views that the body and mouth commit such perverse deeds.

  As stated in the Avalokitesvara Vipassana, Volume 116, “The ten bad karmas are known. All of them arise from anger and greed.” [Xuanzang: A Vipassana Mahavairocana, vol. 116, Dazhongzang, vol. 27, p. 606]. It is clear that the ten bad karmas arise from greed and anger, and that greed and anger arise from ignorance. [Jiang Weinong, Vajrapani Borealis Sutra, vol. 3: “Knowing the three poisons of greed, anger and idiocy, idiocy is the root of poison, and idiocy is ignorance. Idiosyncrasy is ignorance, and it is because of ignorance that anger and greed arise. [Da Zang Jing Supplement, vol. 7, p. 488].

  Therefore, ignorance (stupidity) is the root of the ten good karmas. It is from this ignorance that greed and anger arise, and from this greed and anger that the seven kinds of bad karma of killing, stealing, lust, delusion, two tongues, evil tongue, and Nonsense are created.

  From the above, we can see that the root cause of the Ten Good Karmas is ignorance. It is thus clear that in order to achieve the ten good karmas, one must eradicate ignorance.

(3) The way to achieve the Ten Good Karmas

3.1. Breaking the ignorance by wisdom and achieving the Ten Good Karmas

  What are the specific ways to break the ignorance, uproot it and further achieve the Ten Good Karmas? Capture the thief and then capture the king. In order to receive the Ten Good Karmas, we must take down the thief of ignorance (evil views) to ensure the successful achievement of the Ten Good Karmas.

  In the Sutra of the King of Victory, Volume 5, it is said, “Good men and good women, if you do this, then you will be free from killing, non-taking, sexual misconduct, delusional speech, divisive and harsh speech, nonsense, greed, anger and evil views, and you will always be mindful of these ten karmas. It is clear from this that to keep away from the ten bad karmas, one needs to practice Prajna Bharata (wisdom). Where does the wisdom come from? In Volume 6 of the Dhammapada, it is said, “When one penetrates deeply into the sutra, the wisdom is like the ocean. ” It can be seen that breaking through ignorance is inseparable from wisdom, which means that the way to attain the ten good karmas is to rely on wisdom.

  The Volume 40 of Treatise On the Paramita of the Great Wisdom says, “The wisdom is the first of all the Dharmas, so it is called Honourable Paramita, and it is able to guide the Five Paramitas correctly, so it is called the First Paramita. The Five Paramitas are not as good as the paramita of the wisdom, therefore it is called the Supreme Perfection ,just as the five emotions are not as good as the consciousness.It is clear from this that without wisdom paramita, the other five precepts cannot be achieved, which means that when wisdom paramita is achieved, the precepts are achieved, and therefore, to achieve the ten good precepts, must also rely on wisdom.

3.2. Relying on the Buddha’s special vows to achieve the Ten Good Karmas

  It is not possible to achieve the ten good karmas by self-reliance alone. [Xuanjue, “Song of the Eternal Enlightenment”: “Seeking the Buddha’s merits will be accomplished sooner or later. Dazhongzang, vol. 48, p. 395.] And there are some Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who have this kind of supreme vows to enable all sentient beings to attain the ten good karmas.

  Which Bodhisattva has this supreme aspiration to guarantee the achievement of the Ten Good Karmas? Earth Store Bodhisattva has this vow. In the Mahayana Mahamudra Ten Wheel Sutra, Volume 1, it is said, “Anyone who is able to call the name, recite, honour and offer support to Earth Store Bodhisattva Mahasattva with all sincerity will have all affilictions destroyed, be free from the ten evil paths, achieve the ten good karmas, and have compassion and benefit for all sentient beings.

  It is easy to see that in order to stay away from the ten evil karmas and attain the ten good karmas, one can call the name, chant, venerate and worship Earth Store Bodhisattva Mahasattva with all one’s heart.

  Earth Store Bodhisattva has this great vow to enable all sentient beings to achieve the ten good karmas, and so does Medicine Buddha. In the Sutra of the Merit and Virtue of the Past Vows of Medicine Master Vaidurya Light Tathagata, it is said, “The Fifth Great Vow: When I attain buddhahood in the future, if there are boundless and unlimited beings practising Brahman in my Dharma, all of them will attain the Three Precepts without any deficiency. If there is any offender, after hearing my name, he will be purified and will not fall into evil paths.

  Indeed, the Medicine Buddha has the power of vow to enable an infinite number of sentient beings to attain no lack of precepts, even if they have broken the precepts, even if they have broken them accidentally, unintentionally, or by habit, it is the same as if they had not broken them. This is because the Ten Good Karmas are the disciplinary precepts of the Three Precepts. Therefore, if you wish to attain the ten good karmas, you should rely on the Vow of the Medicine Buddha and pray to him for the attainment of the ten good karmas.

  From the above, we can see that both Earth Store Bodhisattva and Medicine Buddha have the special vows to enable sentient beings to attain the Ten Good Karmas. Therefore, if you want to achieve the Ten Good Karmas, you should pray more and more to Medicine Buddha. Relying on Medicine Buddha, even if one accidentally commits, unintentionally commits, or habitually commits this Ten Good Deeds, it is the same as if one had not committed them, and Medicine Buddha has this special wish power.

  Not only Earth Store Bodhisattva and Medicine Master Vaidurya Light Buddha have this power of the vows, but so does Fahui Shenghui Game Shen Tong Ruler. [Yijing: Yakushi Liulikuang Seven Buddhas Benevolent Virtues Sutra, Dazhengzang, vol. 14, no. 412].

  We know from the sutra that the Buddha has the power to enable all sentient beings to attain the ten good karmas, and that if one only chants to the Buddha, one can attain the ten good karmas and not fall into the evil world, and even attain the Supreme Bodhi.

  In summary, the achievement of the Ten Good Karmas requires first of all the wisdom of the Buddha’s teachings to be cultivated to the marrow of the bones, so that foolishness can be destroyed and the Buddha’s true wisdom can take its place. If one’s own wisdom is not sufficient, one must also rely on the power of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and be endowed with their supreme vows, so that the ten good karmas can be achieved quickly.

III. Conclusion

  This article has explored the Ten Good Karmas and has made it clear that the Ten Good Karmas are the foundation of all Buddhist attainments, without the first step of the Ten Good Karmas, the second and third steps are not necessary. At the same time, it is also clear that the root cause of the failure to achieve the Ten Good Karmas is ignorance. Therefore, in order to achieve the ten good karmas, the first step is to uproot the ignorance, to eliminate all the karmic consequences of the ten bad karmas, and to establish all the karmic consequences of the ten good karmas. Once the ten good karmas are achieved, one is at least a good man and good woman recognised by the Buddha, and at least the root of the Dharma has been achieved.

  As I have been studying the Dhamma in a watery manner, I have not studied the Dhamma thoroughly, so I can only make a superficial exploration of the Ten Noble Karmas. I wish that all sentient beings and other true beings will be able to break their foolishness, achieve the ten good karmas and practice them.

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